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Publisher's Summary

The Secret Lives of Colour tells the unusual stories of the 75 most fascinating shades, dyes and hues. From blonde to ginger, the brown that changed the way battles were fought to the white that protected against the plague, Picasso's blue period to the charcoal on the cave walls at Lascaux, acid yellow to kelly green and from scarlet women to imperial purple, these surprising stories run like a bright thread throughout history. 

In this book Kassia St Clair has turned her lifelong obsession with colours and where they come from (whether Van Gogh's chrome yellow sunflowers or punk's fluorescent pink) into a unique study of human civilisation. Across fashion and politics, art and war, The Secret Lives of Colour tell the vivid story of our culture.

PLEASE NOTE: When you purchase this title, the accompanying reference material will be available in your Library section along with the audio on our Desktop Site.

©2020 Kassia St Clair (P)2020 Hodder & Stoughton Ltd

Critic Reviews

"A mind-expanding tour of the world without leaving your paintbox. Every colour has a story, and here are some of the most alluring, alarming, and thought-provoking. Very hard painting the hallway magnolia after this inspiring primer." (Simon Garfield) 

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What listeners say about The Secret Lives of Colour

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Artists friend.

Many secrets were revealed about colour & their history.
All so intriguing that it gave me fresh eyes & an appetite to paint.
Read by the Author, it has been set out in chapters devoted to each hue family; it is easy to return to.
Knowing the history behind our readily accessed colour palettes of today has broadened my perspective in many ways.
The book is full of fascinating facts about the cultures & belief systems that influenced the making of pigments, combined with the historical influences & limitations that faced the manufacturers & colourmen.
I think we owe much to their hard work & dedication.
Beautifully written & read.
Extremely captivating read, easy yo listen to.
I have read it many times & often referred to its chapters while working.
THANKYOU.
I HIGHLY RECOMMEND IT. 👍🙏👼

NB: A tip for listeners, good idea to slow down reading speed to 85 so older readers like myself can catch every word.

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A colourful history of colours

Compelling and interesting read for anyone interested in the history of colours and specifically the naming of colours. Well narrated and very easy to listen to.

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A waste of money. Very disappointing.

Peddled as nonfiction, this book is riddled with untruths, errors
and blatantly ridiculous nonsense. Everything from asserting that Henry Ford refused to make cars in any colour but black “due to his religious convictions “. (wrong: his first cars were of various bright colours and would have continued to be so, had black not turned out to be the quickest drying colour) to declaring that silver bullets were invented due to a village being “overrun with werewolves”. Um, really? Hachette Books, you ought to be ashamed of yourselves for publishing such a load of trite, unresearched rubbish to gull the credulous.

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Could use a better narrator.

struggled to finish, I noticed that a lot of the info in this book was simply googled, word for word in some cases from Wikipedia.
The narrator seemed to be trying too hard to speak in 'Queens English'.

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Secret Lives of Colour

I so enjoyed listening to this book!

The world is now different after listening to this book.

Looking at the objects around me, I am now wondering, why is it that colour? how did that colour get created? what makes up that colour?

Colours are no longer just numbers, hex, or Red 0-255, blue 0-255, and Green 0-255, they are wavelengths, chemicals, accidents, religion and power.


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Highly recommended

I read the book first and found it very interesting.
So, why an audiobook?
The author’s voice and style of narration is very soothing to my ears.
It’s very rare that I enjoyed both the book and audiobook.
Thank you.

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  • Anrijs
  • 08-06-2021

A fine treatease on social history, if a bit detached.

This is a well researched history of not so much of colours rather than paints.

When seeing the title I did expect that there will at least some reveal of research on how brain works to make sense of colours.

The narrator, who is the writer herself, is outstanding. You can listen to her Londoner’s accent for hours, even if she recited terms and conditions of an insurance contract.

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  • Tout en chantant
  • 06-04-2021

Utterly boring

Utterly boring and only very marginally to so with colour in many places! It does not hep that the writer is also the reader...and she has a very sleepy way about her

1 person found this helpful

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  • WAP
  • 01-05-2020

More a reference book

Pick any colour.... You will find its provenance here. Very well researched and delivered. With a good description of each colour. The short stories attached, gave each hue greater understanding.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Anonymous User
  • 08-07-2021

excellent

really interesting and insightful. it's written in a way that's engaging but easily listened to, and the author/narrator has a really nice flow. so many interesting facts from this and a lovely addition to any previous art history knowledge

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  • Anonymous User
  • 13-05-2021

Well worth a listen.

The content fascinating. The reader brilliant. If you are interested in colour this book is a delight, my only quibble, it wasn't long enough there could of been so many more colours.....Maybe another book Ms St Clair?

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  • Charlotte de Trafford
  • 13-03-2021

fascinating

fascinating and interesting for all, especially artists and art historians.. Well researched, and easy to follow with an excellent narrator

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  • Charity Muzawazi
  • 21-08-2020

Loved the book

Fascinating history of colour. I learnt sooo much!!! Highly recommended if you are an artist.

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  • Kimmi
  • 07-07-2020

Incredibly informative, entertaining and beautifully read.

I loved this book. Fascinating stories about colours but in relation to art and culture. The only bad thing was that it wasn’t long enough. I hope there is another book with more stories.

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  • Michael Hoyle
  • 10-06-2020

Really insightful

I really enjoyed hearing the history and origins of colours. It got a little repetitive after a while, but I listened to it all over just a few days.

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